Greetings, Bookworms! Today we are going to play Bronte-Saurus. Charlotte is my favorite Bronte sister because I LOVED Jane Eyre, but Anne and Emily wrote as well. They were a regular Von Trapp family of badass lady writers at a time when you had to use a male pseudonym to get published. After I graduated from college, I spent a very lonely year living by myself in my college town. Why was it lonely? All my friends scattered back to their respective homesteads and I was trying to adjust to being an “adult” and living by myself for the first time ever. It was hard. So I turned to books, naturally. It was somewhere around this time that I decided I needed to catch up on my classics. I tackled the Bronte sisters.
My future husband was still living in his hometown (adding to my loneliness), and he was running a video production business. You know what kind of work is available to a young guy starting his own videography business? Weddings. I was a super devoted girlfriend and accompanied Jim to about ten million strangers’ weddings as his luggage toter/secondary (and inferior) camerawoman. I read through most of the receptions since I was only really needed to haul bags and man a camera during the ceremonies. (I totally ate the cake though.) Why do I bring this up? Weddings bring out the weird in people. All brides are trying to be unique and interesting, and a lot of them like to use literary quotations on invitations or programs. I didn’t see this quotation often, but I came across it on a few occasions:
“Whatever our two souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” –Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
It sounds romantic doesn’t it? I thought so, until I read Wuthering Heights. After that, any time I saw that quote on anything wedding related, I’d immediately judge the bride because I knew she had just looked online for pretty wedding quotations and had never actually read the novel from which it came. Because NOBODY- and I mean NOBODY- would want to compare their love story to Catherine and Heathcliff. (Cut me a little slack for being judgmental- Jim and I dated for 6 and a half years before our wedding, and I had my non-engaged status rubbed in my face every weekend for most of that time…)
It’s difficult to trot through this plotline without flow charts, because everyone in this book names their kids after themselves, so I’ll get to the nitty gritty. Heathcliff is a swarthy orphan who is brought home by a gentleman who admires his spirit. Heathcliff is despised by the son of the household because he’s lost his father’s attention. Heathcliff is adored by the daughter of the house, Catherine, and they grow up together playing on the moors. Catherine loves Heathcliff, and he her, but she’s a spoiled society brat and he overhears her saying she could never marry him since he lacks status and education. She marries someone else, and Heathcliff spends the rest of his life trying to exact revenge upon his perceived rivals.
Every so often, someone gets caught out in the rain, takes to their bed for a year or so with a prolonged illness, and dies. Seriously- the frailty of these folks is almost comical. I know that given the time period this takes place, they didn’t know pneumonia from influenza from meningitis from mono, so I shouldn’t laugh at their misfortunes and lack of medications. But really. A good portion of this book revolves around one character or other’s invalidity. And nobody ever recovers. In the end, Heathcliff, after destroying the lives of everyone around him, starts seeing Catherine’s ghost. His poor tormented soul eventually dies and he’s buried next to her.
So. A pair of doomed lovers who never actually get married and live miserable lives before dying miserable deaths… Sounds like a GREAT way to start a marriage! Bookworms, are there any wedding cliches that drive you bananas? Ever wanted to call out a bride for using an out-of-context quote in her wedding program? No? That’s just me?